New Voices, New Era? Ownership shakeup could unleash Mariners' spending power

Mariners make first additions to ownership group since Ken Griffey Jr. joined in 2021.
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

It's been a tumultuous few years for the Mariners' ownership group. First, Kevin Mather's leaked comments about manipulating service time irked many media pundits and top prospect Jarred Kelenic. The media firestorm resulted in Mather losing his job, and John Stanton stepped in as the group's voice. Stanton's had a topsy-turvy reign, with the peak being the 2022 drought-busting season, and this past offseason, the valley with him effectively pulling the rug out from Jerry Dipoto's roster construction plan. Thankfully, the Mariners are adding two new voices to the ownership group, Brad Smith and Kathy Surace-Smith this week. 

As the Mariners' ownership group prepares to welcome new members, could this mark the dawn of a new era for the team? Consider the dynamics of a typical ownership group, a room filled with diverse voices, each with their vision for the team's operations and varying levels of equity in the franchise. The Smiths, a dynamic husband-and-wife duo, bring an impressive business background, with Brad currently serving as the President of Microsoft. Their fresh ideas and substantial financial resources could be a game-changer for a franchise grappling with a complex regional sports network situation. 

From a fan perspective, these additions could signal a turning of the tide, at least from the penny-pinching narrative that most folks pinned on the ownership group. Time will tell. However, it should mean more spending power is in the room. Does that result in our beloved franchise dishing out huge contracts for upper-echelon stars? Probably not, but it could mean more funds are available at the trade deadline to take on larger contracts, which fits into Dipoto's preferred "draft, develop, trade" model. 

For example, National League batting champion Luis Arreaz might be available if the Miami Marlins continue to tank. He's a free agent at year's end but on a $10M contract. A deadline acquisition cost would equal prospects and the ability to pay roughly half his salary ($4.6M). In the past few years, this acquisition would only be an option if ownership would pay the extra cash to offset the trade, and with Stanton being the majority owner, that wasn't happening. This year, with these new additions, who knows?

As the team on the field continues to rise in the standings, armed with elite pitching and timely hitting, we'll see how it plays out in the boardroom. The trade deadline is a key indicator of the level of change around a franchise that's had its fair share of bumps and bruises.